Some people say scrap your supplement stack and just go with whey protein. Other people say never start a bulk without a mass gainer.
But who's right?
It's no secret that we're big fans of weight gainers for bulking. But in today's mass gainer vs whey protein debate, we evaluate both sides of the argument, to which is the best, and which is best each goal.
Should You Take A Mass Gainer Or Whey Protein For Bulking?
While protein is essential for muscle growth of all levels, it is your calorie surplus that determines how much weight you will gain, and whether you will even gain weight at all.
Although it's possible for hard working lifters to gain muscle in a calorie deficit, you won't be heavier unless you're in a surplus. Besides, the muscle mass you build in a calorie deficit isn't as impressive as the size you can build while you're bulking.
For this reason, a mass gainer is a better supplement than whey protein for bulking. The hardgainer doesn't have the luxury of gaining Serious Mass with just a couple of protein shakes a day — they need calories, and they need them in their hundreds, if not thousands at a time.
As the monotony of your bulking regime kicks in, foods that once tasted like heaven while cutting, now seem like a curse from above, and no matter how hard you try, eating more food just isn't possible. If only you'd bought a mass gainer rather than whey…
How About A Mass Gainer Or Whey Protein After A Workout?
As for stimulating protein synthesis — the force behind muscle growth — there's not a whole lot of difference between the two. However, protein synthesis is just a dull chemical signal. For it to turn into muscle growth, it checks that you have a few fundamentals in place:
- Is there the correct training stimulus?
- Do we have enough amino acids?
- Is there enough available energy?
While weight training is the primary driver of muscle growth, it won't take place unless you have amino acids and excess energy. Now, your muscles aren't very picky when it comes to amino acids. They can get them from whey, mass gainers, or even chicken breast. But as for creating excess energy to trigger weight gain, a mass gainer beats whey protein every single time.
It Depends On Your Body Fat
Do you think it's more convenient for your body to take the energy it needs from your fat tissue or the muscle mass that requires so much physical energy for it to grow?
The more body fat you have, the less chance there is of your body breaking down your precious muscle tissue — because it already has so much fat for fuel. So, in this case, go with a regular whey protein supplement.
However, if you're on the skinnier side, and especially if you're a hardgainer, go with a mass gainer after training, to encourage your body to grow muscle, not break it down.
The 3 Types Of People Who Should Consider Taking A Weight Gainer
While having a high metabolism is something the average person dreams of, it's not much use for gaining weight, let alone muscle. Protein, above all other foods, is particularly filling, and if you're an ectomorph with a weak appetite, meeting your high caloric needs through regular foods alone is really impractical.
The more times you workout throughout the week, the higher the number of calories you burn, and the more fuel your body needs to grow. It's easy to recover from 2 or 3 short sessions, but more training demands extra calories, and taking a weight gainer can help you cope with the extra physical strain.
If you combine weight training with cardiovascular activity, then you probably have a higher caloric need than most of the population. Depleted muscle glycogen stores need replenishing to maintain peak performance, which is especially true if you're training twice a day, or on back to back days.
Do you think anyone ever broke a sprinting world record with depleted quads?
The Best of the Best
#2 Serious Mass
The Best Value
#3 True Mass
The Best tasting
#4 Pro Gainer
Best Lean Gainer
#5 MP Combat XL
Good But Not The Best
Who Should Stick With Protein Shakes
There's no denying that with the right work ethic and diet knowhow, mass gainers can get you impressive results. However, they are most certainly not for everyone.
Here's who should avoid weight gain supplements:
Even the most bro-ish of gym bros know that weight gain powders are a horrible idea during contest prep. When you're calories are that low, I'd go so far as to say don't even drink protein shakes, stick with whole food because it's more satisfying.
The Best of the Best
#2 Combat Powder
The Budget Choice
#3 Gold Standard Whey
The Best all-rounder
The Best Tasting
So, What's The Difference Between Mass Gainer And Whey Protein?
A good whey protein powder usually has a few grams of fats and carbs at the most. On the other hand, I've tried weight gainers with anywhere from 50, to 450 grams of carbs per serving.
Yes, you read that right.
I once tried a mass gainer with 450 grams of carbs, it was like drinking all my daily meals in one shake. Definitely not something I recommend doing more than once in your lifetime.
Although weight gainers usually have more protein overall, they have a much lower protein to carbs ratio. A tub of whey can easily have 15 times as much protein than carbs, but a weight gainer often has 2-5 times more carbs than protein. That’s not really surprising, they perform entirely different functions for the body!
Taste And Flavors
Being naturally much higher in calories, you'd be forgiven for thinking that mass gainers taste better than whey, but in my experience, they taste pretty much the same.
Well, they both utilize artificial sweeteners to flavor their powder. A sweetener like stevia or sucralose both tastes the same whether they're in a gainer or a protein shake.
That said, brands probably use more sweetener in their mass gain mixtures than whey proteins simply because there is more powder that needs flavoring.
Fun fact: a lot of people think that weight gainers taste sweet because of maltodextrin when in reality, it's one of the plainest tasting carb sources there is.
Value For Money
This is best illustrated with an example.
Check out the comparison chart below. Despite Serious Mass being over twice the size of Gold Standard Whey, it has 58 fewer servings!
Yes, you read that right.
You get 58 less serving with the mass gainer. So, if you're on a budget, stick with whey, and get your calories from food.
Overall, both supplements can put muscle on your frame, and help you get strong. The best choice for you comes down to your goals and your current physique.
Skinny and wanting to grow muscle? Then go with a mass gainer.
Are you overweight and looking to shape up? Get a decent protein powder, and put yourself in a calorie deficit.
If you have the budget, and you don't have a load of extra body fat to lose, you might well benefit taking both supplements to maximize muscle growth.
We hope you enjoyed our mass gainer vs whey protein debate. Hopefully, it helps you decide which product to go for. You can see our supplements page to learn more.